Japanese food is one of the more original cuisines on this planet, having developed over millenia in relative isolation (the sole major influence being China) and with rather strict dietary restrictions born from both poverty and religion. To reduce the subject of dozens of books and scholarly dissertations to a series of bullet points, Japanese food could be characterized as:
  • healthy, consisting primarily of rice, vegetables, and fish in that order
  • frugal, since nearly all parts of anything that grows or swims is eaten
  • simple or even austere, because the flavor of fresh ingredients is crucial
  • mild, as spices are used very sparingly
  • elegant, since the appearance of the meal is considered nearly as important as the taste

...and, let's face it, often rather...

  • weird to non-Japanese folks, since so many of the ingredients and some of the preparation methods used are unique to Japanese cuisine and thus unfamiliar.

For an excellent introduction to Japanese food, I wholeheartedly recommend Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art (Kodansha). Of course, an even better introduction would be a visit to Japan, since "real" Japanese food is notoriously difficult to find elsewhere.

An extensive collection of Japanese recipes can be found in the Cookery catalogue under Japanese recipes.